The Northern Territories


Artificial Memory Trace
Garig Gunak Barlu

Now found transmitting from Ireland, but initially hailing from the former Czechoslovakia, Slavek Kwi (a.k.a. Artificial Memory Trace), is a sound artist/composer of ‘Electroacoustic Sound Paintings’ who has with his Ultrealith CD clocked in with the highly regarded Gruenrekorder Records label, that golden repository of nature surveillance recordings. And I think that alone is a good as recommendation as any.

His audio snapshots uncover secrets from near-off-the-map dwelling places of the chittering/clicking classes, in which insects and crustaceans take on a leading role that’s bolstered by a very disparate chorus line indeed. Mix in the glug and slo-mo drip of flooded rainforests, the brrrzap of electric fish (!!) and the rush of moving vegetation. Gang Gunak Barlu is the first part of the ‘AustalOpus’ series which finds Kwi’s twitching censors hovering over certain areas of Australia’s Northern Territories, which takes in Barlu National Park (hence the title), Coubourg Peninsula, Arnhem Land and the Arafura Sea. The tentative opener “Breakdawn” soon has its low level whisperings shattered with the squawks of numerous parrots performing the same function perhaps, as the early morning cock’s crow of rural blighty. But… as you might expect, things really come alive at night time to an alarming degree with “Nocturnal Abyss” where once aroused, nature’s little drummers and droners simply do not let up. The liner notes’ descriptive powers make for a tiny slice of sheer poetry too…”Ultrasonic insects sliding across the time grid meets hypnotic nocturnal chorus, sprinkled by sonar of bats and barking geckos.”

I’d like to imagine that Garig Gunak Barlu‘s tableau could easily be inserted into pieces of Miles’ “lost lands and beyond” trilogy (Agharta, Pangaea & Dark Magus), Kwi’s sound signatures readily complementing those steamily exotic concoctions. But saying that reduces this material to a set of subservient incidentals…which they clearly are not. Kwi’s application and vigourous appetite for his art clearly shows that the intrepid field recordist genre has gained yet another fascinating and individual voice. Comes in a limited edition of 300.